The state of human rights in Africa
On a continent as vast and diverse as Africa, there are no simple narratives on freedom and human rights. Like many places in the world, there are hopeful trends and success stories, but also worrisome trends and signs of backsliding. While sincere efforts to enshrine human rights in law are found in most of Africa’s 54 countries, the actual protection of those rights often falls victim to corruption or to violent non-state actors with other designs in mind. But there are reasons for optimism as well as caution — and ample data to show observers where the trends are going. For instance, according to Freedom House, sub-Saharan Africa has about 10 “free” countries (most of them small), about 20 “partly free,” and about 20 more “not free” nations. Recent trends in The Gambia and Angola give rise to optimism, while repressive actions in Tanzania and Uganda suggest they have a ways to go.
On November 20, the Africa Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution hosted a panel of experts on human rights trends in Africa. Afterwards panelists answered questions from the audience.
Michael E. O’Hanlon
Director of Research - Foreign Policy
Director - Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology
Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative
Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology
Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and Strategy
Executive Director, Africa - Human Rights Watch
Chief of Party, Advancing Rights in Southern Africa Program - Freedom House
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There’s a lot of anger and frustration … and young people see Sonko as the last chance to potentially oust Sall.